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Why Narcissist Can't Love (with Daria Żukowska, Clinical Psychologist)

Uploaded 2/6/2024, approx. 27 minute read

Okay, so hello everyone and Hello professor because we have a guest today and it's a professor Sam Wagner in the the outer of the malignant self-love Narcissus revisited hello, Sam.


Yes, Sam is shorter than professor Wagner

Yes today I would love to speak with you about love

Actually mean especially

What does it mean when a person with NPD and when with BPD is saying I love you

What exactly does it mean?

Yes, well the answer is a bit long because like everything else with the narcissist is complicated is unlike other people. That's why they are narcissist and they are not other people

The narcissist is not capable of loving others. He's not capable of loving Not only romantically, but he's not capable of loving friends or loving his children or loving Generally loving humanity or is incapable of the emotion of love

Now in psychology, we do not make a distinction between loving your husband and loving your dog

The this is love. It's the same emotion It is manifested differently and has different behavioral aspects, of course

Hopefully you don't behave with your husband the same way you behave with your dog

But the emotion behind this is absolutely the same and the narcissist is incapable of it

For 10 reasons, so it's going to be a bit of a long answer

I'm ready apologizing

First of all, the narcissist is not capable of recognizing the externality and separateness of other people

In other words, the narcissist is not capable of perceiving other people as external to him and as separate from him

Now when I say him and her

Half of all narcissists are women. So everything I'm using the male gender pronouns

But it applies to women as well

women narcissist as well

so there's no capacity to recognize that other people are out there and That they are separate from the narcissist

The narcissist treats other people as internal objects as extensions

So any kind of emotion any kind of cathexes that the narcissist has with regards to other people is actually self-directed

So even when the narcissist is sexually attracted to someone he is actually attracted to himself

This is known as auto-erotism

Even when the narcissist thinks that he is in love with someone he is actually in love with the internal object that represents this someone in his mind

He is in love with himself in effect

Narcissists in short are incapable of othering

Regarding people as others

The second problem is that narcissists are over-cognitivists

There they have cognitive style not emotional style. They process everything through cognition

They do have empathy for example, but it is called empathy cognitive and reflexive not emotional

They do have negative emotions, but the negative emotions are processed cognitive cognitively.

Everything is cognition

Now the narcissist Narcissism is a fantasy defense. In other words, the narcissist lives in fantasy not in reality. He's divorced from reality and fantasy involves cognitive distortion, fantasy involves Forcifying reality.

So the narcissist puts emphasis on cognition and is incapable consequently of positive emotions

Narcissists are also very afraid of positive emotions because positive emotions are Automatically linked to negative emotions

If you are capable of experiencing positive emotions then of course you will also experience negative emotions and the narcissist negative emotions are life-threatening

For example, shame, the narcissist, shame is life-threatening

So narcissists say okay, I will not experience positive emotions in order to not experience my shame or my guilt or whatever

Next thing is what is known as bad objects inside the narcissist. There is a group a constellation of voices

They are known as introjects

These voices keep telling the narcissist keep informing the narcissist. You're unworthy, your bed, you're stupid, you're ugly, your failure, you will never amount to anything to keep making mistakes etc, etc and The bed objects actually tells the narcissist you are not lovable. You cannot be loved No one will ever love you You're so bad. So corrupt so hopeless that no one will ever love you So the narcissist needs to validate the bed object because the bed object is usually not always But usually the voice of mother and father the voices of mother and father So the narcissist is still a child and the child cannot say mother is wrong father is wrong.

The narcissist should validate the bed object and the way to validate the bed object is by acting unlovable.

When you try to love the narcissist, he pushes you away He abuses He abuses you he makes you not love him He wants to prove to himself and to you that he is truly unlovable because mother said so Father said so they said I'm unlovable and they're never wrong.

So I'm gonna prove to you that I'm unlovable I'm gonna abuse you until you abandon me or give up on me or abuse me back reactive abuse, you know In this is known as projective identification when the narcissist forces his partner to not love him

The next thing is that narcissist feel superior They are worthy. They're considered. They believe that they are supreme and so and Everyone is capable of loving Even pets even animals love Love means that you're like everyone else Like everybody else because everybody loves if you love you're like everyone else You're common and this is unacceptable to the narcissist. He perceives love and As a weakness he perceives love as the great equalizer It makes him equal to other people and he's not equal is God like so He regards love as a kind of power play I'm gonna prove to you that I don't love you. I'm gonna prove to you that I don't need you I'm gonna prove to you that I'm superior to you by not loving you I'm gonna prove to you that you have no power over me. You cannot make me love Because I'm not weak. I'm godlike and I'm not like everybody else.

You think you have power over me You can make me love you. I'm gonna show you that you don't have power over me because I'm unique. I'm special So there's a lot of contempt

When the narcissist comes across a potential love interest This generates in him a reaction of contempt and rage Anger because he feels threatened by love Love threatens to expose the fact that he's like everybody else that he's vulnerable and That he is in need of love and he hates this he hates to realize this

Next thing is that Narcissist uses relationships to replay to reenact early childhood experiences early childhood conflicts, especially an attempt to Separate from the mother and to become an individual known as separation Individuation.

So the narcissist converts you whether you're male or female doesn't matter the narcissist converts you into a mother figure maternal figure and Then here the narcissist has had a very bad conflicted relationship with his original mother with the biological mother.

So he reenacted he replays it inside the relationship He says you are my new mother and I'm gonna do to you what they did to my original I'm gonna hate you the same way. I hate my mother I'm gonna be angry to you the same way I'm angry at my mother and I'm going to separate from you as I should have separated from my biological mother and face But with you, I'm going to succeed. I'm going to devalue you and I'm going to discard you

This is automatic. It's known as a repetition compulsion. It's not something that the narcissist can control It's totally automatic Another element in this is it if you are the mother Then having sex with you is incest It's incestuous So the minute the narcissist converts you into a maternal figure within a shared fantasy, which he does with everyone The minute he does this he cannot have sex with you anymore It's incestuous and he cannot love you also. It's also not okay. It's a taboo He's breaking a taboo, which is very strong Narcissist associate love with pain Rejection and abandonment because this has been the first experience of love that they've had as children As children, the narcissist is abused It may be physically maybe sexually maybe emotionally maybe verbally maybe psychologically Maybe the narcissist is instrumentalized used as a tool To realize the mother's unfulfilled wishes of the father's hopes and expectations Maybe the child is parentified is forced to act as a parent to his own parents Whatever the case may be it's a bad experience. It's a horrible experience So the narcissist learned as a child that love leads to pain rejection and abandonment Love is not safe. There's no secure base. Love is not safe. Love involves a loss of control Love involves a threat Love involves an external locus of control. So love is anxiogenic creates anxiety In the narcissist love creates anxiety. It's not a pleasant experience at all. It's a terrifying experience the narcissist loves And this is the last point the narcissist loves transactional The narcissist has learned as a child that in order to be loved He has to perform he has to do something. He has to deliver some If he fails somehow he is not loved He's not loved any longer So this conditional love is the only form of love the narcissist knows So the narcissist thinks that if you love him you want something from him That love is manipulative You're using love to manipulate him and to conclude some kind of transaction in which you're gonna have some benefits And then he's very anxious because what would happen if he fails to deliver if he does not succeed to perform You will leave him You will leave him for sure Because it's a business deal. No so this also increases the anxiety as you can see as far as the narcissist is concerned Love sucks It's a really really bad experience on multiple levels. Some of them unconscious some of them conscious and The only outcome of love is enormous anticipatory anxiety Something bad is gonna happen to me as a narcissist if I love something bad is gonna happen to me Something bad is already happening to me inside Because of my unconscious processes and so on my grandiosity is challenged But something bad is gonna happen to me outside Because I'm unlovable and if people say they love me They want something from me the same way my parents did and I'm bound to fail the narcissist Catastrophizes I'm bound to fail and it will all end in tears blood and tears That's how narcissists see love. So why would they love?

Thank you so much for this deep analysis and Above all that I would like to ask so why sometimes they Insist that they can love that they that yes, I love you Yeah, I can feel it why they insist what is that they are misinterpreted with this Sentence first of all exactly as you said they miss label. This is a miss label What is what they're feeling is not love narcissist are not capable of love period They're not capable of what we call cathecsis emotional investment in a love object by the way any object any love even Animate objects they are not capable of loving anything because they have what Freud called at the time narcissistically Bido their love all their emotions are self-directed.


When the narcissist was growing up the only safe space was himself the false self. Mother was not safe. Father was not safe. The family. There was also siblings were not safe. No one helped the child. He could only rely on this godlike invention the false self. So what narcissists call love is what clinicians call the share fantasy. It's a fantasy defense within this fantasy. The narcissist convinces himself that he is in love. He has to label. He feels he's feeling some things and he has to label them. So he labels them love. Some narcissists are also manipulative, especially anti-social, malignant or psychopathic narcissists. They're manipulative. So they will tell you that they love you. Okay, to keep you around. In order to create in you attachment and bonding. In order to get you addicted to them. In order to obtain some benefits like sex or money or whatever. They will tell you that they love to obtain a goal. Because they're goal oriented and that's a manipulative strategy. And it's potentially a crime.

This is known as the lover boy method. Uh, android, page right now is you know, in prison for this. Not in prison, but in front of a trial. So, but the vast majority of narcissists really believe that they love. It's just the fantasy. The fantasy is so overpowering. So wonderful. It's such a disneyland. It's a theme park. They can't let it go. Within the fantasy, they feel validated. They feel that the grandiosity is true. It's not false. They feel that they are wonderful and unique. They idealize their partner in order to idealize themselves. So both of them become ideal in sort of a cloud or a bubble and so and What they feel is the gratification of constant narcissistic supply. And it is such a high, it's like a drug. Such a high. That they can't tell the partner. Listen, you're a wonderful source of narcissistic supply. You're gratifying me. Thank you very much.

They say I love you. It's total mislabel. And you should not fall for it. If the person is a narcissist, That's nonsense. He is incapable of loving. Thank you so much for that and I do agree you shouldn't go for it, because my another question is, why loving a person with npd hurt so much?

Because I know that it hurt because I was in this kind of relationship. It's not only from the knowledge from books but from also personal experience and but Why it hurts so much like nothing else on this earth? Why only because it's the only kind of relationship where you have multiple forms of grief. When the relationship breaks, you have multiple forms of grief and within the relationships, you are constantly in a state of mourning of grief.

Because the relationship involves death not life. When you are in a relationship with a narcissist as I said, it's a fantasy, but this fantasy is shared. We don't call it fantasy. We call it shared fantasy. You collaborate with the narcissist and you collaborate with the narcissist because he idealizes you. And it feels wonderful to be idealized. It's very gratifying. It's your own source of narcissistic supply. You see yourself through the narcissist's eyes. And you fall in love with the image of you that the narcissist projects to you. You don't love the narcissist. You love the way the narcissist loves you.

This is the opening stage and it feels wonderful and it feels perfect and it feels ideal and it feels like nothing you had before. And then abruptly and suddenly it becomes a nightmare. This is known as intermittent reinforcement

Positive negative, hot, cold loving

And you are totally disoriented And you're terrified to lose the fantasy and to lose your place in the fantasy

Gradually you assume the maternal the maternal role because that's the narcissist's condition for the shared fantasy

So you do become a mother And because you become a mother you develop maternal feelings for the narcissist.

He becomes like your child And so when the relationship goes bad when the narcissist begins to devalue you When definitely when the narcissist discards you or when you leave the relationship when you abandon the narcissist and go away You are grieving multiple things

First of all, you are grieving your idealized image

You're no longer idealized Now you're just again a normal person common person that hurts

The way the narcissist shifts from loving you loving you from idealizing you to hating you Is horrible

Of course many many people have auto plastic defenses. That means they blame themselves. They ask what did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?

Uh, you know, they are They feel guilty they feel ashamed and so So you mourn you mourn yourself and you grieve yourself in the relationship you grieve the relationship Because the fantasy is difficult to let go

The fantasy involves a vision of the future

A vision of the future where you're going to be together and fighting children or big common business or whatever

So there's a vision of the future which you have to let go of

This vision of the future gave your life many indirection and purpose you felt elated you felt wonderful that you know, you have a common goal and you're working towards that goal

And suddenly it's gone

So you're mourning the fantasy

You're mourning the child

You're a mother who has lost her child

And you're mourning your partner, of course

And you're mourning not your partner so much as the the fact that you idealized you're mourning the imaginary partner

That you had within the fantasy

Because of all these multiple forms of grief which are simultaneous

Grieving yourself grieving the child grieving the fantasy grieving the partner grieving the imaginary partner

Because of all the multiple forms of grief

Uh, you're in a very very bad shape

You are unable to regulate yourself. You cannot give yourself answers

You feel stupid, you feel wronged, you feel a victim

And at the same time you feel that you must have done something wrong. You were the perpetrator

Maybe you were the abuser

You begin to doubt yourself. Maybe i'm the narcissist. Maybe I you know It's a place of total disorientation and dysregulation and in this sense clinically people after in the wake of relationships with narcissists

Clinically they're indistinguishable from borderline personality disorder

So complex, complex trauma or complex PTSD which is very very a very common response to relationship with narcissists

Is clinically the same as borderline personality?

You're reacting exactly the same

You are emotionally dysregulated

You are self-arming and self-destructive

You encounter huge emotions very powerful and more you're overwhelmed by emotions of shame and guilt

You are you become aggressive in Empathic you lose empathy

You feel like a victim and then you feel like an abuser. These are all

You have mood swings

You have mood lability. These are classical signs of borderline personality disorder

And so it's a bad place.

It's a bad place to be

I do agree after Relationship that i've had in the past many years ago

You feel also unworthy. I felt unworthy also, uh, i've had a second thought that Definitely something wrong with me and it was of course, but in a different way

But and by that I even asked my therapist Tell me if I do have a borderline personality disorder bpd because i'm my behavior It's it's like that and then my therapist said no, you you don't have a bpd you have cptsd and ptsd and And then I saw that when I regulate myself regularly in a therapy Then I observed that okay Uh, I understand now what was going on and I have to just go through this process, but Yes, it's it's really difficult and painful. That's why.


That's why I have a also one question One more what would be one advice you could give?

uh to people or you know to someone who Who is thinking about this kind of relationship to?

uh what they can do to to stop this and What they can do for themselves to not even start This kind of relationship with npd what they can do how they can help themselves before it will start because After and even during it will be really painful

Well, there are many signs, but before I go there you mentioned something very important

In order for the narcissist to devalue you and to discard you Victims must understand that The narcissist is having a relationship with himself Not with you You don't exist you're not an external object. You're an internal object in the narcissist mind. He's having a relationship with himself Now don't forget that at the core of narcissism. There's a bad object So the narcissist is having a relationship with a bad object When the narcissist is in a shared fantasy with you He is actually in a shared fantasy with a bad object Because the narcissist is terrified of the bad object What the narcissist does?

He idealizes the bad object he falsifies it. He says it's not a bad object. It's an all good object but the minute the narcissist converts the bad object into an all good object That means that the narcissist becomes a bad object. This is known as splitting If the bad object is all good, then what remains of the narcissist is all bad So the narcissist cannot escape the bad object Whatever the narcissist does he remains stuck with a bad object And there's one solution What the narcissist does is he merges?

the bad object with your object In his mind the narcissist has an internal object that represents you So he takes this internal object And he merges it with the bad object now You are the bad object And then this gives him legitimacy To discard you and to devalue you You become what is known as a secretary object You become an enemy So he then devalues and discards you but He needs to devalue and discard you. It is an integral part of the shared fantasy There's nothing you can do about it.

Online many self-styled experts as usual Give wrong advice and nonsensical information. For example, they say That the narcissist devalues you because you criticize him Or you disagree with him That is nonsense Even if you never criticize the narcissist even if you're 100 submissive Even if you are the best conceivable partner Even if you give narcissistic supply endlessly even if you never confront another He's going to devalue and discard you because it's not about you. It's about his relationship with his original mother It's about his relationship with the bad object inside him He just uses you for therapy The relationship the shared fantasy is therapeutic is a kind of therapy

What do we do at the end of therapy? We discard the therapist When therapy is finished we say goodbye to the therapist no We don't remain in a relationship with the therapist until we die We come to the therapist we get therapy. We say goodbye. We don't devalue the therapist, but we discard the therapist That's what the narcissist does He uses you for therapy Internal therapy then he discards you but in order to discard you Because he has idealized you he needs to change that he needs to devalue you So it's not your fault You could do nothing about Don't don't listen to self-stamp experts that somehow blame you They say you were too critical you criticizing you disagree. That's why he devalued you.

No, you're not responsible Zero, you had nothing to do with it. You just happen to be there

Well, it's very easy to tell that someone is a narcissist within the first five minutes again Don't don't listen disbelieve self-styled experts that tell you that the narcissist is a great actor And it's not possible to understand to realize that he's a narcissist takes weeks and days and not true Narcissists cannot hide the fact that they are narcissists Anymore than a dog can hide the fact that he's a dog It's just that you are lying to yourself you're denying You witness the red alerts the warning signs and you ignore them you deny them Because you're lonely Or because maybe you grew up in a family that made you the typical victim for a narcissist made you sensitized to narcissism So maybe you gravitate you are attracted to narcissist whatever the case may be You're lying to yourself The narcissist from the first minute Is controlling He treats other people badly It could be a waitress could be a cab driver could be anyone he treats other people not you He idealizes you He treats you like a queen, but he treats badly everyone around you He's controlling. He tells you where on the first date He decides which restaurant to go to what you eat. Oh, yes Yeah, he chooses your food for you He's controlling also in the sense that you go to the bathroom and you return and he asks you Uh, what did you do? Where did you go? Why did it take so long?

So you see the micromanagement the control freckling he is either not interested in what you have to say and keeps talking about himself all the time or He keeps totally silent and he Listens to you, but in a way Uh, like the police would listen to you he's he's interrogating. He's compiling a file on him Also He's bound to say things that are very uncomfortable For example, if he sees that you have some vulnerability some weakness some fear some anxiety He will push it He's a bit sadistic He will push it. He will make you feel uncomfortable He will make you feel self-aware and self-conscious

This happens in the first five minutes Invariably always but people deny this Because they want to be idealized. They want to be in a fantasy and and so on so forth. Nastas ist offers Reality today is horrible Who wants to be in reality?

covid pandemics wars breakdown between genders Crime who wants to be in reality reality really sucks terrorism, you know So here comes an ostracism says leave it to me Come into my fantasy And you no longer need to worry or to think or to make decisions I you can become a child you're safe In inside my fantasy you can become a child again And I will act as your parent You know On condition that you act as my parent when I need to so it's it's what I call dual mothership It's an exchange of parenting roles

But don't believe and don't buy into the story that you have been deceived Nastas ist are very clear about who they are Even covert narcissists are clear. For example, they're very passive aggressive They're malicious. They gossip they say bad things about other people they bad mouth people the end they do it within minutes within minutes they would make sadistic jokes about the waiter or the cab driver or you see that they're bad people simply bad people You see this But you reframe everything The covert narcissist has a passive aggressive sadistic sense of humor So you say to yourself all is very funny The narcissist mistreats other people mistreats them Humiliates them in front of you and you say to yourself all is a very strong person You reframe everything positively Because you want to believe it you want to believe in the fantasy and you've been alone for too long And you feel lonely and you feel the need to be with someone And maybe you feel that you have failed in life or whatever and the narcissist promises you to be a second childhood second chance to succeed Thank you for that and for like I said deep analysis and it's really important to remind us what is important and what it's more healthy for us and One good friend of mine told me that assertiveness and boundaries are really important and I think they are Thank you so much sam for for our conversation and and for your time as always and Yeah, thank you so much Take care. Thank you. See you next time. Bye. Bye. Bye.

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